How do pitchers do on the first batter of the game?
We often hear about getting to a pitcher early, but I want to look at the earliest of the early and see how pitchers have fared on the very first batter they faced in the 1st inning.
- Qualified starters are hit at a .253 pace by the leadoff batter in the 1st inning, batters have a .311 OBP, slug .393, for a .704 OPS.
- Overall, qualified starters are hit at a .249 pace by all the batters they face, batters have a .307 OBP, slug .390, for a .697 OPS.
No surprises there. We expect the leadoff batter to do better than at least three and maybe four members of a representative lineup, so we expect them to be better in all statistical categories, but understandably, not by an enormous amount.
Who does well?
You won't find anyone better this season than Bronson Arroyo, who has faced 22 leadoff batters and retired them all, striking out five, getting eight grounders and nine outs in the air. Just to let you know, Arroyo has a 2.84 ERA in 1st inning and a .220 BAA.
Next up, is Jordan Zimmermann. Leadoff batters are 1-for-22 against Jordan with four whiffs for an .045 BAA. The one hit occurred in his last outing on August 2 when he allowed a leadoff double to Rickie Weeks and Zimm stranded him. Overall in his 1st innings, Zimmermann has a 1.64 ERA and a .163 BAA.
The third of four starters who have allowed one hit or less to the leadoff batter is Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie has faced 23 leadoff batters, walked four and allowed just one hit, a Matt Carpenter double on May 30. The Cards got to Guthrie for two runs that night in the 1st, but Guthrie held them scoreless over the next five innings.
The final first batter star pitcher is the Mets phee-nom Matt Harvey. Harvey has allowed one hit and one walk to the 22 batters he's faced (.048), while striking out seven. The one hit was a Juan Pierre bunt single on June 2.
|John Lackey (BOS)||20||9|
|Wade Miley (ARI)||23||7|
|Ryan Dempster (BOS)||22||7|
|Matt Harvey (NYM)||22||7|
|Mat Latos (CIN)||23||7|
|Felix Hernandez (SEA)||24||7|
|Edwin Jackson (CHC)||22||7|
|Clayton Kershaw (LAD)||24||7|
|A. J. Griffin (OAK)||23||7|
|Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE)||22||6|
And the not so good...
I find this list fascinating because there is such a mix of successful and not so successful pitchers.
|James Shields (KC)||24||10||.455||2|
|Eric Stults (SD)||23||10||.455||1|
|Andy Pettitte (NYY)||20||10||.526||1|
|Shelby Miller (STL)||21||9||.529||4|
|Mat Latos (CIN)||23||9||.409||1|
|Lance Lynn (STL)||23||9||.391||0|
|Kyle Lohse (MIL)||23||9||.409||1|
|Felix Hernandez (SEA)||24||9||.375||0|
|Bud Norris (BAL)||24||9||.391||0|
|Anibal Sanchez (DET)||19||9||.563||3|
My particular annoyance
I hate it when pitchers walk the first batter of the game. It irks me. Consequently, these guys annoy me.
|Tim Lincecum (SF)||22||6||5||.353||.500|
|Dillon Gee (NYM)||22||3||5||.176||.364|
|Stephen Strasburg (WSH)||23||2||4||.111||.304|
|Shelby Miller (STL)||21||9||4||.529||.619|
|Ricky Nolasco (LAD)||23||5||4||.263||.391|
|Jeremy Guthrie (KC)||23||1||4||.053||.217|
|Jeff Samardzija (CHC)||23||7||4||.368||.478|
Finally, here are the seven starters who have allowed two homers to first batters they faced
|Yu Darvish (TEX)||22||3||2||.158||.474|
|Kyle Kendrick (PHI)||23||4||2||.200||.600|
|Kevin Correia (MIN)||22||7||2||.368||.684|
|John Lackey (BOS)||20||5||2||.250||.550|
|Jeff Samardzija (CHC)||23||7||2||.368||.737|
|Gio Gonzalez (WSH)||23||7||2||.318||.682|
|CC Sabathia (NYY)||23||5||2||.238||.571|
The best first inning leadoff batters
Here's a bonus for you:
|Shin-Soo Choo (CIN)||98||.353||.439||.671||1.109||30||5||7||15|
|Nate McLouth (BAL)||85||.342||.388||.468||.857||27||1||5||7|
|Eric Young Jr. (NYM)||71||.328||.423||.410||.832||20||0||9||6|
|Starling Marte (PIT)||102||.319||.373||.500||.873||30||1||5||27|
|Jacoby Ellsbury (BOS)||106||.313||.358||.495||.853||31||2||5||14|
|Desmond Jennings (TB)||76||.290||.355||.435||.790||20||2||7||16|
|Matt Carpenter (STL)||87||.288||.345||.413||.757||23||1||7||10|
|Michael Bourn (CLE)||81||.286||.321||.416||.737||22||2||4||16|
|Brett Gardner (NYY)||101||.272||.337||.380||.717||25||0||8||19|
|Austin Jackson (DET)||79||.271||.354||.343||.697||19||0||9||12|
|Norichika Aoki (MIL)||91||.263||.352||.313||.664||21||0||10||6|
|Coco Crisp (OAK)||89||.250||.326||.413||.738||20||3||9||10|
|Alejandro De Aza (CWS)||105||.213||.295||.372||.668||20||4||11||19|
|Denard Span (WSH)||92||.200||.261||.271||.531||17||0||7||19|
|Alex Gordon (KC)||83||.200||.277||.267||.544||15||1||6||17|
After all is said and done, the best part of the leadoff experience is that the game has started.